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Monday, March 12, 2018

My genres

I became interested in jazz through a beginning piano book with a boogie-woogie piece that I was playing when I was little kid.  My dad had a few jazz records, and I one had Coleman Hawkin's "Body and Soul." After that, I was hooked on jazz for the rest of my life, when my dad said it was improvised. I like bop, free jazz, and anything by Duke Ellington or Billy Strayhorn, and also Blue Note music of the 60s and 70s. West Coast and cool jazz of the 50s too.

Along with that, a deep appreciation of the great American song book. Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen...  I thought stupidly as a kid that the jazz musicians turned these banal songs into great improvisations. But they are great songs to being with.

My dad was a big fan of classical music, and my sister became a classical musician (organist and choir director).  My mom played piano and taught piano lessons for years and years.  She still plays. Classical music was always around, and then my daughter decided to be classical musician too, and her favorite is Mahler so I like that too (as did my dad!). My mom would play "Maple Leaf Rag" along with Chopin and other typical piano pieces. Two of my cousins became classical musicians, one a French horn and the other a conductor who was assistant to Bernstein.

Within that, I've always loved Bach. I also like Morton Feldman and Ned Rorem, too opposite styles in contemporary American music. I like chamber music, especially Haydn and Mozart string quartets.  More recently, I am into Federico Mompou. I wish I knew more opera. I like art songs, especially in the tradition of the French mélodie. I've sung in choirs as young man, and more recently as an old one.  

Blue-grass is great. I like its jazz-like improvisatory flavor.  My girlfriend's brother-in-law is some country and roots bands, and I hear them play often. Classic rock is fine with me too. It's not in my top 5 genres but that's ok.  Blues I see as connected to my interest in jazz. Of course I love Bessie Smith. I like classic R&B, and of course Ray Charles is an abiding love. I love Mahalia Jackson too. Spirituals and gospel music are wonderful.

I am not an expert Hip Hop fan.  I like The Roots, but doesn't everybody?  

I tried to hear Flamenco on my Junior Year Abroad.  I had to pay a lot to hear actual music, in a club not for tourists, but it was worth it.  I've always loved Flamenco too. Carmen Linares and Miguel Poveda should be listened to, among contemporary figures. Mairena and La Niña de Los Peines among older styles.    

I got into salsa and Afro-Cuban styles as well. Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente, and Willie Colón and Celia Cruz. I've tried to play hand drums in that style. I do like African drumming.

I've approached "New Age" music mostly as an aid to relaxation. I've had two radio programs that I've liked, "Music from the Hearts of Space" and "Echoes" with John ????.

There is enough music I love that I don't have to bother with things that aren't that compelling for me.   It would be a waste of time to denigrate music that isn't of interest to me, or that I simply haven't had time to explore. I'm sure Indian classical music is phenomenal. I just don't know how to listen to it yet.

I wouldn't try to sing Flamenco, but I would try "My Funny Valentine."  My musical abilities are extremely modest, so my biggest talent is a listener. If you as an eclectic a listener as I am I would love to hear from you--in a non-competitive way, of course.



Anonymous said...

We grew up with folk, which included blues, bluegrass, huapangos, flamenco and son oriental. These genres had a major impact. Guthrie, Odetta, Leadbelly, Dave van Ronk, Bill Monroe. Nueva canción was coming in then, too, as were the epoch-making rock bands of the late 60s and early 70s. Gospel rock, Sister Rosetta Tharp. My father was a jazz fanatic, early to mid period, Kid Ory to Basie. My brother and I memorized Bob Dylan lyrics. He liked more mainstream rock than I did, and also knew more esoteric bands, like Blue Oyster Cult. My father in the other family was a poet, composer, and singer and his main influence was leider; he had quite a voice and was interested in folk revival too. His wife was musically educated but not inclined. Both fathers liked opera and I love Monteverdi and choral music.

My mother believed in classical music Mozart to the present, and liked pop and even country; I was not interested and liked early music, Gregorian chant to Bach, could play most of the two and three part inventions at one point, and studied baroque guitar, wanted a lute. Was interested in ancient music and musics of indigenous peoples, like current weird modern mixes that experiment with friction and sound, and mix oddly-matched sources and influences. Would like to get into that more, it is Vallejo-esque.

I've gotten away from music somehow but would like to live where there are really good classical concerts, and attend regulary. I would secretly like to be a singer in a folk or bluegrass or even Cajun band, although my voice is unremarkable. I have placed my guitar, a Tamura P-60 classical guitar in the Spanish mode, in the living room, even though it is not the right instrument for this, so I can practice but I have been too agitated to actually try; the thing keeps going out of tune, I do not pick it up enough. Perhaps I will, although the only folky thing it is really good for is finger-picking.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes -- I had decided that I'd like to learn flamenco guitar, that's right! I have certain very good flamenco recordings, and will start listening to them. As a very small child I liked the very early rock and roll that was coming in, and flamenco. It was the liquid sound of the notes, petenera.